The possibility of having a wind farm near Sandstone Trail country drew a step closer to becoming a reality this week. BARRY ELLAMS reports.
VILLAGERS will tell you that on a sunny day the view from Bickerton Hill holds its own among Britain’s finest scenery.
Walkers on The Sandstone Trail are greeted by a panorama of lush green countryside teeming with wildlife that the Cheshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says is being “swallowed up” year after year by encroaching industrial development.
The latest battleline over Cheshire’s countryside has been drawn around the village of Bickerton which overlooks one of the county’s soon to be prospected wind corridors.
The village is set to become a flashpoint between Britain’s newest industry titans – renewable energy and tourism – after a controversial application that could set a precedent in Cheshire was approved.
This week the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate announced a 60-metre wind monitoring mast can be installed despite being rejected by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council.
It is thought the anometer off Long Lane could pave the way for a wind farm of up to five turbines as high as 125 metres.
In January, Rob Williams, director of Renewables Projects, wrote to The Chronicle explaining that Bickerton could have a big role to play in solving Britain’s energy crisis.
He said: “Should a wind farm be deemed feasible, a full public consultation exercise would be undertaken in advance of any planning application to ensure local people could see the detail of any proposal and raise any queries or concerns they might have.”
The proposed site for the monitoring mast is overlooked from the north by the Sandstone Trail, and from the east by Cholmondeley Castle and gardens. Both attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.
Cheshire is actively marketed as one of Britain’s leading rural escapes.
Visit Chester and Cheshire chairman Mike Cooksley recently explained: “We are not against renewable energy but wind farms have to be sympathetic. We are trying to promote rural Cheshire which has become very important for the secondary holiday market.”
Lynne Lomax, of Stop Bickerton Wind Turbines, said: “They will ruin the enjoyment of thousands of walkers, horse riders and cyclists who treasure this area for its peace.”
For Eddisbury MP Stephen O’Brien wind farms not only produce negligible electrical output but are “gesture politics” on behalf of the government, used to pay token interest to the war on global warming.
He is urging Gordon Brown to pursue other forms of renewable energy such as solar, wave or tidal power.